Mukuru and the Redeemer Church

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Methodist Guest House and homes of Bahati Martyrs church members

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Travel Blog, Thursday

I don't know. There was a problem of some sort trying to upload pictures yesterday.  I’ll try again today, but I am writing the blogs off-line, along with some e-mails, because I am paying for the minutes here at the Guest House, and I’m trying to stretch them out!  We’ll see!

We are off on a road trip today!  We meet Jane Gitubia, Social Worker at PCEA Bahati Martyrs, partner congregation to our PCCT.  We are off to Machakas, Pat Nordman’s sister congregation from Flanders.  There is, we understand, a new pastor there, and he and Jane Gitubia know each other from youth work in the PCEA.  And Pastor Robby has invited us to a very special event in the life of one of his congregations (he has a circle of eight congregations, including his main one, the Machakas Town Church.)  Machakas was once the capital of Kenya, until the railroad building made it logical to move the capital into the hub, Nairobi, which now boasts the major airport (Jomo Kenyatta International Aiarport, into which we flew as well).

Machakas is a hike down south east, and has a brief stretch of road which our driver Michael tells us is but a very short preview to the trip on the washboard roads going to Masai Mara (our Safari destination).  Mike tells us that the road is kept natural so the vehicles have to slow down and experience the beauty of the landscape, and also, I think, to give the animals to have a better look at us on the way in – their menu for lunch should we be stupid enough to get out of the vehicles in the preserve!

We meet Pastor Robby and a couple of his elders and start back up the mountain, beautifully terraced small farms along the way up.  There is some doubt at a couple of points as to whether our Toyota van is going to make it up the hill.  We are going up  to one of Pastor Robby’s charges –PCEA Kaewa Church.  He can only make a service himself at one of them about once every eight weeks.  And the sacraments wait upon his coming, communion and baptism; elders and evangelists can hold the services, preach and hear the pastoral concerns, to pass them along to Robby.

Robby is a well-trained pastor, with education at seminaries in and around Atlanta – though he had to interrupt his theological education and work, security and OTR Truck Driving, to earn money while his wife was in a long ICU hospitalization, piling up huge bills (remember, this was prior to the new Health Care opportunities, which might have been of help to Robby and family!)  He also has the very latest in technology, with an I-Phone, awaiting high speed internet cable which is about to come to his place!  He downloaded and bookmarked the travel blog site and looked at the first entries while we spoke!  I’m looking for some theological literature to bring/send back at the next opportunity – and I want to hook him into our various Kenya connections!

So here’s what we went up the mountain to share:  the small Kaewa Church, serving a Kamba tribe population which has made the U.N. list of most impoverished areas, is currently meeting a small group of students after school and during school breaks in a small corrugated tin shed behind the church building.  The students and their teacher gathered to sing us a welcome song, and hung around shyly to see these strangers – I imagine the first pale-faces they had ever seen!

Things were unusually green!  It had been a rainy season, from November through May and June.  The rains had failed for the previous six or seven years, and the drought was devastating to these small farmer families.  They were dependent on "charity" and government food supplies to survive.

The small congregation has plans to build a small administrative facility and a couple of classrooms, which, when completed, will allow the community to be supported by Compassion International.  So they are making bricks!  And we were there for their first day of brick-making, using their red clay, sand, brick forms, and water carried by the women in huge containers, and stirring the mixture with their feet!  What a bunch of happy feet!  And a couple of magnificent T-Shirts, too.  I think my brother-in-law is going to have to pay big-time for a picture of one of the young men in a Michigan State T-Shirt!!

Our task was to come and share in a blessing of the work, and to encourage the young church, about a hundred members currently.  Robby says it would take hours to get to the next of the seven churches up and over the mountain!  And these church members, from their poverty, have begun to take up a collection for the cost of the materials!

Needless to say, I have a proposal to make!  You want to literally get in on the “ground floor” of a new church – I mean, if you’re not willing to get your feet in the mud, show me the money!!  They are estimating a cost for their needed structure of just over $16,000 (that’s right, $16,000!!  Where else are you going to be a part of a building fund drive like this??)

We were richly and royally entertained by the gathering of women, singing and dancing.  And one of the brick-makers, Bosco (I’m guessing a possible Catholic connection here somewhere, before the community heard of the Presbyterians, but I could be mistaken!) was the community’s translator from my English into their tribal language (there are some 42 tribes in Kenya!  Didn’t the British do a great job along with the other “Great Powers” at the Berlin Conference in 1903, paying absolutely no attention to tribal boundaries, cultures, languages or animosities??  I’m sure that if America had had a shot at it, we would have carved out our slice of Africa as well!)  Bosco hears a calling to the ministry.  I promised him a place to stay with us if we can get him into school in New Jersey!  We may need some help!

Then, the “royal guests” were seated in their “community center,” or lodge, near the brick-making operation (seating about eight, maybe?) for porridge (fermented, finger-millet cereal product, hot and nourishing!), arrowroot, cassava, pomegranates and tea (Chai na maziwa) (hot tea with milk).

Oh, did I mention that the bricks will have to be transported up and around the hill to the building site by hand?  Or that their goal is 10,000 bricks?  And that they have projected to have the bricks completed in perhaps a couple of months at most?  If the sun were to come out long and strong, the bricks would be dry in next to no time!  They will then bundle them together and lug them up.  We saw women with huge bundles of fire-wood and other loads on their backs, but couldn’t get an adequate picture of them.

Robby took us back down to Machakas for a wonderful meal in one of the town restaurants, and put us back on the Van for our ride home.  We were part of a great traffic jam as we got close to Nairobi, and had to dump Jane out to catch a ride home in one of Nairobi’s notorious Matatus, the small vans which are sort of a “bus on demand,” terrorizing traffic and picking up passengers almost wherever and taking them who knows where toward their destinations.  The drivers seem to be crazy young men, who drive on the shoulders on either side of the road and will cut in and out of lanes more aggressively than I have seen any drivers anywhere – but Hey, I don’t know Italy or a bunch of other countries, so I may be missing something here, too.

That’s it for Thursday.  Tomorrow we will go with Jane to see the ministry in Mukuru, one of the slums, where some very committed Christians are planting the Church of the Redeemer, Mukuru.
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